Good gravy, the great Gawain and that gigantic Green Knight gave this guy an alliteration glut. (How could I have forgotten about the Alliterative Rev...moreGood gravy, the great Gawain and that gigantic Green Knight gave this guy an alliteration glut. (How could I have forgotten about the Alliterative Revival?)
And still, one other technique is this whole poetic deal that the writer uses-- it's called the bob and wheel.
Although a cynical, jaded 2012 reader will likely find some of this a bit pietistic (or corny), it's nice to harken back to the days of chivalry, of chaste knights adamantly defending their beds from lascivious ladies, and of giant green men showing up on Christmas to challenge you to a be-heading contest...you go first!(less)
How can you write a true biography, a biography that really captures a human's whole life, or even just "the important" parts of it, and still moves s...moreHow can you write a true biography, a biography that really captures a human's whole life, or even just "the important" parts of it, and still moves smoothly from one important event to another?
Rhetorical question. I don't have the answer. D.T. Max certainly doesn't have the answer either. DFW once wrote about how impossible it would be to even accurately capture the infinite stimuli of a fleeting moment, so I don't envy the charge that a biographer takes on.
Here are a few things I really didn't like about this particular biography. Many of the transitions (or lack there of) between sentences, between paragraphs, and between "important" parts of the subject's life are just awful (due to their afore-parenthetically-mentioned non-existence). Next, Max's use of endnotes. There were many pieces of interesting/personal DFW details for which I wanted to know Max's source. Instead of clearly (and in my opinion properly) documenting them by using endnotes, Max devotes his endnotes to little "asides," making them seem like space to dump stuff he couldn't fit into the body of the book. (Similar to how he describes DFW's use of endnotes in IJ.) Since this is a biography, I feel that it needs to make a point of clearly documenting its sources--see Charles Shields'sVonnegut Biography. Unfortunately, dumping narrative tidbits in the back doesn't stop Max from also peppering in the most random and unnecessary facts every now and again in the biography proper. Finally, there are many parts of DFW's life about which I would have liked more detail, parts brought up by Max but not sufficiently delved into. Perhaps he could have devoted more space to adding depth here by limiting the amount of space given to summaries of DFW's work.
Here are a few things I liked about this particular biography. It was about David Foster Wallace, a writer and person I admire. It gave me a fair enough overview of Wallace's life. The writing did move along well-enough and there was a spare great sentence here or there. Even though I knew how it would end, I couldn't arrest a few tears on the last page. No expert on Wallace, I oddly can't come away from this 300 pages saying I've learned a great deal of new information about his life; nevertheless, I enjoyed reading about his life.
Here are my excuses for not supporting the above claims with textual evidence. It's late. I'm tired. I'm lending the book to someone tomorrow.
Oh, and I've got to throw this in here. I lied, the opening isn't exactly a rhetorical question. The correct answer is "Ask Brian Boyd." (I can't review a biography without mentioning the gold standard.)(less)
I expected the book to be about “In the final seconds of the old millennium, 1,999 women and children march off the edge of a cliff in Northern Califo...moreI expected the book to be about “In the final seconds of the old millennium, 1,999 women and children march off the edge of a cliff in Northern California, urged on by a cult of silent men in white robes. Kristin was meant to be the two-thousandth to fall. But when at the last moment she flees, she exchanges one dark destiny for a future that will unravel the present.” I mean, since I copied and pasted that from the “blurb,” it’s a reasonable assumption, right? Let me spoil the first 25 pages for you. One night this 17 year old, Kristin, wakes up and decides to find a dream. Literally, figuratively, a dream. Literally, she has never had a dream when she sleeps; figuratively, I’m sure she’s looking for some dream to chase/pursue. After waking, she goes to the only hotel in her small island home, finds a random guy passed out drunk in his room, and then she fucks him. Of course he had an erection because “a man has an erection when he dreams,” and she wants this dream because “a dream is a memory of the future” (12). Next Kristin travels over to mainland California and “there [she is] standing by the road somewhere north of Sacramento, with only the clothes on [her] back and [her] books—Bronte and Cendrara and Kierkegaard in a cloth bag—when the whole emigration comes around the bend” (16). And so because this suicide-lemming cult of women has lost one of the perfect 2,000 members along the way, Kristin just joins up. When they make camp at night, she again sleep-rapes one of the male priests thanks to his dream-erection. The next day when the women are led off the cliff by the priests who have scythes, Kristin is the only one quick enough to outrun them. Sure she escaped, but now she’s stranded. Luckily a pair of lesbian murderers picks her up and brings her to the penthouse of the guy they murdered. After stealing their car and high-tailing it out of there, she finds herself in LA with no money. She considers prostitution, but that might upset her sense of “morality or aesthetics” (25.) Either way, she has no problem answering a creepy ad in a newspaper from a guy, only ever named as Occupant, to live with him and be his meat-hole (I know, a disgustingly vulgar term, but that’s really all she is and all he wants). And that’s the end of the cult aspect, which I thought would be a major plot point.
Got all that? Good because that’s the first 25 pages. The remaining 225 are pretty similar, just with different characters: the Occupant is obsessed with creating a new calendar all based on the dates of random acts of tragedy; a woman gets into porn with her husband, sleeps with her brother, and creates the first snuff film; a girl runs away from home, becomes an escort, is almost murdered, but escapes when she recognizes “it was clearly a chair for an execution,” (112), leaving me to wonder what the hell did that chair look like?. Of course, all of these people are connected in the most bizarre ways, most of which they do not know about. In that way, it’s a poor man’s Cloud Atlas, devoid of the verbal flourishes and lacking developed characters for the reader to actually care about.
Of course, it’s definitely more a book to be read for theme rather than plot. But when characters say things like “Make me do what I can barely bear to do…something nearly as depraved as I am” and then meet up with “a debauched couple who had nothing but money and looks and antics” (91) it becomes more of a poor man’s Pahlaniuk (or, to be fair, on par with anything Pahlaniuk has written recently). If one of the themes is that we live in a nihilistic age where morality is just another debunked grand narrative, the bizarre lunacies and depravities of the characters are just too…bizarre? Over the top? Uninteresting? Boring? I guess I’m trying to say that a good theme would be revealed more subtly, and the “in your face” nature of this actually disinterested me.
Finally, another primary theme causes me to liken this to a poor man’s White Noise (although since I wasn’t really all too fond of that, for me it’s just a regular White Noise). Much of the “bad faith” that comes in this current “age of chaos,” really an age in which each individual has his/her own “private millennium,” is related to the loss of memory. (Get used to all that mumbo-jumbo if you’re gonna read this.) “The flow of Western memory had been tainted lately, the pure grade-A stuff being cut with something unidentifiable but particularly toxic” (158). Okay, so maybe it’s just the fact that every reviewer’s blurb declares Erickson to be a new Pynchon/Delillo coupled with the word “toxic” in that sentence that forced my mind into that connection. Speaking of reviewer’s praise I must add, “Excuse me, Wall Street Journal, but Erickson does not ‘approach the heights’ of Nabokov.” In fairness, reading that in the cover flap may have annoyed me from the outset.
If I were to write a five star review of this, however, it would sound something like this. This is a postmodern masterpiece. Erickson captures what it is like to live in an age collective truth has been replaced by chaos and true faith has been supplanted by each individual’s private millennium of isolation, solipsism, and grand quest for meaning. This is brilliantly symbolized in scenes such as the Occupant being locked in a room for seven years and a naked girl being bound, blindfolded and suspended, thereby being forced to find the only meaning that she can in the recesses of her mind. Erickson sums up the human tendency, no human need, to ascribe some meaning to the events that unfold around us, especially those that are most tragic. While one character’s obsession with senseless, world-wide tragedies illuminates the utter chaos and lack of meaning that governs—(or does not govern at all)—life, Erickson manages to instill a ray of hope. The various, brilliant inter-connections amongst the characters suggest that there is some grand design or fate or god or purpose that, like the characters, we just can’t see; it suggests that maybe the postmodern era is actually one of clandestinely ordered chaos. But that's for you to decide because what it all boils down to is the stark truth that “Everyone is his own millennium. Everyone is his own age of chaos. Everyone is his own age of apocalypse” (234). Powerful stuff.
Some Crappy Lines -“Louise pulled away from Marie, who was looking at her with great sadness. ‘Stop looking at me that way!’ Louise said. ‘Stop looking at me with great sadness!’” (140). -“But then he noted that all the numbers of the code that preceded the coordinates were prime ones, which is to say numbers that could be divided only by themselves” (184).
Things: A Story of the Sixties gets a very strong 4/5. Review forthcoming--first I've got to get right into A Man Asleep!
A Man Asleep gets a very "eh"...moreThings: A Story of the Sixties gets a very strong 4/5. Review forthcoming--first I've got to get right into A Man Asleep!
A Man Asleep gets a very "eh" 2/5. Further, I'm particularly mad at it for two additional reasons: 1) it isn't a separate book (I mean I couldn't find a separate publication of these two anywhere!), so these two books only count as one book on my reading challenge! (Yeah, I actually think about stuff like that, and yeah it burns my biscuits.) 2) I was so jazzed up after reading Things: A Story of the Sixties that I probably could have written a pretty good review: you read A Man Asleep and you become less enthused. You suddenly lose passion for what you once enjoyed. You drink some nescafe. You keep reading the book and thinking that it reminds you a bit of Beckett and you don't really enjoy most of his stuff. You find it tolerable, but tedious and repetitive. You find it repetitive and tedious. You do kind of like that it's in the 2nd person, though. You thought that would be annoying, but it has its charm. Will you ever return to write a proper review of the book you actually liked? Only time will tell; "time would have had to stand still, but no-one has the strength to fight against time" (219).
Now I can't wait for Perec's "e" books to arrive in the mail; otherwise, I'll have to start Life: A User's Manual, and that's looong(ish). Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.(less)
What is this book? It’s a picture. A picture cut into pieces—like a jigsaw puzzle—for the reader to reassemble. They say “a picture is worth 1,000 wor...moreWhat is this book? It’s a picture. A picture cut into pieces—like a jigsaw puzzle—for the reader to reassemble. They say “a picture is worth 1,000 words”? Well, Perec’s picture is worth approximately 238,560 words (I counted the words on one page and multiplied by the number of pages, hence the “approximately). So what is this massive picture? Well, it’s (view spoiler)[1 The Coronation at Covadonga of Alkhamah's victor, Don Pelage 2 The Russian singer and Schonberg living in Holland as exiles 3 The deaf cat on the top floor with one blue & one yellow eye 4 Barrels of sand being filled by order of the fumbling cretin 5 The miserly old woman marking all her expenses in a notebook 6 The puzzlemaker's backgammon game giving him his bad tempers 7 The concierge watering potted plants for residents when away 8 The parents naming their son Gilbert after Becaud their idol 9 A bigamous count's wife accepting his Turkish female rescuer 10 The businesswoman, regretting that she had to leave the land 11 The boy taking down the bins dreaming how to write his novel 12 The Australian round-the-worlder and her well-dressed nephew 13 The anthropologist, failing to locate the ever-evasive tribe 14 The cook's refusal of an oven with the self-cleansing device 15 1% sacrificed to art by the MD of a world-wide hotel company 16 The nurse casually leafing through a shiny new photomagazine 17 The poet who went on a pilgrimage shipwrecked at Arkhangelsk 18 The impatient Italian violinplayer who riled his miniaturist 19 The fat, sausage-eating couple keeping their wireless set on 20 The one-armed officer after the bombardment of General H.-Q. 21 The daughter's sad reveries, at the side of her father's bed 22 Austrian customers getting just the steamiest "Turkish Bath" 23 The Paraguayan odd-job man, getting ready to ignite a letter 24 The billionaire sporting knickerbockers to practice painting 25 The Woods & Water Dept. official opens a sanctuary for birds 26 The widow with her souvenirs wrapped in old weekly magazines 27 An international thief taken to be a high-ranking magistrate 28 Robinson Crusoe leading a very decent life style on his isle 29 The domino-playing rodent who feasted on dried-out Edam rind 30 The suffering "word-snuffer" messing around in old bookshops 31 The black-clad investigator selling the latest key to dreams 32 The man in vegetable oils opening a fish restaurant in Paris 33 The famous old soldier killed by a loose Venetian chandelier 34 The injured cyclist who then married his pace-maker's sister 35 The cook whose master ingested only eggs and poached haddock 36 The newly-weds taking credit over 2 yrs to have a luxury bed 37 The art dealer's deserted wife, left for an Italian Angelina 38 The childhood friend reading the biographies of her 5 nieces 39 The gentleman who inserted into bottles figures made of cork 40 An archaeologist researching the Arab kings' Spanish capital 41 The Pole living quietly in the Oise now his clowning is over 42 The hag who cut the hot water to stop her son-in-law shaving 43 A Dutchman who knew any No. could be but the sum of K primes 44 Robert Scipion devising his supremely clever cross-word clue 45 The scientist learning to lip-read the deaf-mute's equations 46 The Albanian terrorist serenading his love, an American star 47 The Stuttgarter businessman wanting to roast his leg of boar 48 Dodeca's owner's son preferring the porn trade to priesthood 49 A barman speaking pidgin in order to swap his mother-goddess 50 The boy seeing in his dream the cake he had not been allowed 51 7 actors each refusing the role after they'd seen the script 52 A deserter from US forces in Korea allowing his squad to die 53 The superstar who started out as a sex-changed guitar-player 54 A redheaded white man enjoying a rich maharajah's tiger hunt 55 A liberal grandfather moved to creation by a detective story 56 The expert penman copying suras from the Koran in the casbah 57 Angelica's aria from Arconati's Orlando requested by Orfanik 58 The actor plotting suicide with the help of a foster brother 59 Her arm held high a Japanese athlete bears the Olympic torch 60 Embattled Aetius stopping the Huns on the Catalaunian Fields 61 Selim's arrow hitting the end wall of a room 888 metres long 62 The staff sergeant deceasing because of his rubber-gum binge 63 The mate of the Fox alighting on Fitz-James's final messages 64 The student staying in a room for six months without budging 65 The producer's wife off yet again on a trip around the globe 66 The central-heating engineer making sure the fueljet ignites 67 The executive who entertained all his workmates very grandly 68 The boy sorting medical blotters he'd been collecting avidly 69 The actor-cook hired by an American lady who was hugely rich 70 The former croupier who turned into a shy, retiring old lady 71 The technician trying a new experiment, and losing 3 fingers 72 The young lady living in the Ardennes with a Belgian builder 73 The Dr's ancestor nearly solving the synthetic gem conundrum 74 The ravishing American magician and Mephisto agreeing a deal 75 The curio dealer's son in red leather on his Guzzi motorbike 76 The principal destroying the secrets of the German scientist 77 The historian, turned down 46 times, burning his 1200-pp. MS 78 A Jap who turned a quartz watch Co into a gigantic syndicate 79 The Swedish diplomat trying madly to avenge his son and wife 80 The delayed voyager begging to have her green beans returned 81 The star seeking admission by meditating a recipe for afters 82 The lady who was interested in hoarding clockwork mechanisms 83 The magician guessing answers with digits selected at random 84 The Russian prince presenting a mahogany sofa shaped in an S 85 The superfluous driver playing cardgames to use up his hours 86 A medic, hoping to make a mark on gastronomy with crab salad 87 An optimistic engineer liquidating his exotic hides business 88 The Japanese sage initiating in great anguish Three Free Men 89 A selftaught old man again going over his sanatorium stories 90 A relative twice removed, obliged to auction his inheritance 91 Customs & Excise men unpacking the raging princess's samovar 92 The trader in Indian cotton goods doing up a flat on the 8th 93 French-style overtures brought to the Hamburg opera by a Hun 94 Marguerite, restoring things seen through a magnifying glass 95 The puzzlemaker with his ginger cat taking the name of Cheri 96 The nightclub waiter, legging up on stage to start a cabaret 97 The rich amateur leaving his musical collection to a library 98 A housing and estate agency woman looking at that empty flat 99 The lady doing the Englishman's black cardboard puzzle boxes 100 The critic committing 4 crimes for 1 of Percival's seascapes 101 The Praetor ordering 30000 Lusitanians to be killed in a day 102 A student in a long coat staring at a map of the Paris metro 103 The building manager, trying to solve his cash-flow problems 104 The girl studying the craftsman's rings to sell in her store 105 Nationalists fighting the Damascene publisher who was French 106 A little girl gnawing at the edges of her shortbread cookies 107 The maid, imagining she'd seen the evil eye in an undertaker 108 A painstaking scientist examining rats' reactions to poisons 109 The pranking student who but beef stock in vegetarians' soup 110 A workman gazing at his letter, as he leaves with two others 111 The aged gentleman's gentleman recomputing his nth factorial 112 The staggered priest offering help to a Frenchman lost in NY 113 The druggist spending his fortune on the Holy Vase of Joseph 114 The jigsaw glue being perfected by a head of a chemistry lab 115 That gent in a black cloak donning new, tight-fitting gloves 116 Old Guyomard cutting Bellmer's sheet in 2 through the middle 117 Original fine champagne proffered to Colbert by Dom Perignon 118 A gay waltz being written by an old friend of Liszt & Chopin 119 Agreeably drowsy after lunch, M. Riri sitting at his counter 120 Gallant Amerigo learning a continent was to be named America 121 Mark Twain reading his obituary long before he'd intended to 122 The woman polishing a dagger that was Kleber's murder weapon 123 The college endowed by its ex-rector, an expert in philology 124 The single mother reading Pirandello's story of Daddi, Romeo 125 The historian who used pseudonyms to publish rubbishy novels 126 The librarian collecting proof that Hitler continues to live 127 A blind man tuning a Russian prima donna's grand piano-forte 128 A decorator making the most of the young pig's crimson bones 129 The agent trading cowries believing he'd make millions at it 130 The disappointed customer who in dyeing her hair lost it all 131 The assistant librarian using red pencil to ring opera crits 132 The lovelorn coachman who thought he's heard a rodent mewing 133 The kitchen-lads bringing up hot tasty snacks for a grand do 134 The nurse's milk jug spilt on the carpet by two naughty cats 135 A Tommy and his bride-to-be stuck between floors in the lift 136 The bookdealer who found three of Victor Hugo's original MSS 137 The English "au pair" reading an epistle from her boy-friend 138 The ordnance general who was shot in the lounge of his hotel 139 The doctor whom loaded fire-arms forced to carry out surgery 140 Safari-buffs with their native guide - posing for the camera 141 The French prof, getting pupils' vacation assignments marked 142 A beautiful Polish woman and her wee son dreaming of Tunisia 143 The judge's spouse whose pearls had cooked black in the fire 144 The cyclist struggling for recognition for his 1-hour record 145 A conscript startled on seeing his old physics schoolteacher 146 The ex-landlord dreaming of a "hero" of the traditional kind 147 A conductor rehearsing his band for 9 weeks, again and again 148 A gifted numerate, aspiring to construct a massive radiomast 149 Antipodean fans giving their idol a present of 71 white mice 150 The Spanish ex-concierge not too keen to unjam the lift door 151 Listening to an enormous phonogram, a smoker of an 89c cigar 152 A choreographer, returning to torment the loveless ballerina 153 The man who delivered wine on a trike doing the hall mirrors 154 An obviously pornographic old man waiting at the school gate 155 The botanist hoping an ivory Epiphyllum would carry his name 156 The so-called Russian who solved every brainteaser published 157 The infant Mozart, performing for Louis and Marie-Antoinette 158 A sword-swallower who on medication threw up a load of nails 159 A man who made religious articles dying of cold in the woods 160 Blind horses, deep down in the mine, hauling railway waggons 161 A urologist musing on the arguments of Galen and Asclepiades 162 A handsome pilot looking for the castle at Corbenic on a map 163 The carpenter's workman warming his hands at a woodchip fire 164 Visitors to the Orient trying to solve the magic ring puzzle 165 A ballet maestro beaten to death in the U.S.A. by 3 hoodlums 166 A princess, who said prayers at her regal granddad's bedside 167 The tenant (for 6 wks) insisting on full checks on all pipes 168 A manager who managed to be away for four months in the year 169 A lady who owned a curio shop fishing for a malosol cucumber 170 The man who saw his own death warrant in a newspaper cutting 171 The emperor thinking of the "Eagle" to attack the Royal Navy 172 Famous works improved by a celebrated artist's layer of haze 173 Eugene of Savoy having a list made of the relics of Golgotha 174 In a polka-dot dress, a woman who knitted beside the seaside 175 The Tommies enjoying girls' gym practices on a Pacific beach 176 Gedeon Spilett locating the last match in his trouser pocket 177 A young trapeze artist refusing to climb down from his perch 178 Woodworms' hollow honeycombs solidified by an Italian artist 179 Lonely Valene putting every bit of the block onto his canvas (hide spoiler)].
This book just blew my mind so thoroughly that I don’t have much ability to piece together coherent thoughts about it. During my reading, I was often upset by the lack of “literary puzzles, allusions, problems of chess and logic, and mathematical formulae” promised by the back cover. I was also often bored by the long, descriptive lists of objects, paintings, settings. Well, dummy that I am, I did not realize that I wasn’t even smart enough to find all those puzzles I hoped to solve, many of which were buried in/constituted by said lists. After reading some notes on Perec’s Oulipian constraints, specifically regarding the structure of the book, I am freakin’ floored. Floored! And I realize that this is an apt image of me trying to "solve" this book:
The end of the first chapter lifts a line from the beginning of the final chapter of Kafka’s The Trial. I loved The Trial, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to notice that allusion. And to think, the most challenging puzzle I could make out of this was a “seek and find” like the ones I’ve been doing with my nine month old.
Yeah, that huge list that’s in the spoiler, I spent hours finding those “images” in the book and diligently recording their respective pages on that list. Why? Because that apparently was the most challenging puzzle I could even discover let alone solve. Oh, and I didn’t even “solve” it. I got 84/179.
Seriously, why had I never heard of Perec before relatively recently thanks to GR?! Why isn’t his name as familiar as Joyce, Nabokov, Gogol (somehow he sort of strikes me as an amalgamation of the three)?
"'This whole thing is a bad senseless dream,' I said" (200).
That about sums it up; except it isn't bad. It's not good either. I felt like Bukowski was...more"'This whole thing is a bad senseless dream,' I said" (200).
That about sums it up; except it isn't bad. It's not good either. I felt like Bukowski was just playing a joke on his readers the whole time, like "hey, let me just write some outlandish fiction with an absurd, nonsensical plot and someone will publish it and lots of people will read it. And I'm going to do that because I can." And he did. And he makes writing seem so easy. And this makes me think that I could write a book like this: simple sentences, cliched dialogue, random plot, poorly developed characters. And I know I can't (yet, he tells himself optimistically), which is one of the reasons I liked this book--he makes it seem easy. I could read this cover to cover without getting bored by the prosaic writing or the trite characters (Death, aliens, Louis Ferdinand-Celine, a more than a few cartoon thugs). And it's because Bukowski somehow makes all that crap palatable.(less)
At the beginning of the year, I had to make a tough decision. Do I start adding children's book to my "read" list? After much consternation, I opted a...moreAt the beginning of the year, I had to make a tough decision. Do I start adding children's book to my "read" list? After much consternation, I opted against it. Not that everything I read is great literature, but I didn't want to inflate my stats with these books. Only now did I come up with a better solution: exploit my kid. I do want him to start reading/enjoying books at an early age, so why not start documenting his interests. After all, being part of this site definitely keeps me reading more than I would if I were not addicted to it. Plus, this can be a unique way of documenting Jameson's childhood, or his life via books or something. (Those last two sentences are only there to reassure myself that I'm not just exploiting my kid.)
The question still remains: why, though, have I decided to add this book to my list? Well, the answer is simple. This is not a children's book. Au contraire. This book would fit very nicely on one of Karen's shelves. Let's start with the title. Tickle, tickle, Peter. Read as an imperative or a declarative sentence that's just not a message I want to send my infant. That title would be more appropriate for, say, something up for an AVN award...(Side note: I for one find the term "Peter" particularly funny. My friend bought a used car about four months ago. It has one of those radios with a digital display. Every time he turns his car on, the radio reads "I Love Peter." Four months and he still hasn't changed it. I laugh every time I get in that car.) Maybe everyone doesn't have such vulgar connotations (denotations?) spring to mind when they hear "Peter." Okay. I get it. I've always had a juvenile sense of humor. But how could anyone not be a bit suspicious of the page with three cats (ie: n/m you know a synonym for cats) sprawled spread-eagle with the lines "Slowly, gently stroke my fur. Tickle, tickle, purr, purr"?! Excuse me, but I do not want my three month old stroking the cat's faux-fur in this book. Nor do I want him to "tickle, tickle [the] furry mouse." Heck, I think he's even too young for the more adulterated parts: "touch my tail, hear me giggle" and "stroke my ears, it feels so nice." Why can't it at least start with "Be a gentleman, hold my hand. Going slow isn't bland" or "Girl bunnies all have cooties. Boys like dirt and pee and doodies."
Finally, you should see the cover! There's a reason goodreads wouldn't allow a cover picture. It's perverted, demented, despicable, deranged! (J/k).
No matter the type/content/author/other, poetry's just never my thing. I'm probably cheating by considering this "read" since by no means did I read e...moreNo matter the type/content/author/other, poetry's just never my thing. I'm probably cheating by considering this "read" since by no means did I read every page. So sue me.(less)
(p.s. It took forever to copy and combine the images of the duck and the top hat and to draw in the water. Totally worth it, though.)
(p.p.s. While reading, I couldn't help thinking that this would make a perfect Guy Ritchie movie--in the same vein as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch. The more farcical it got, though, the more I thought it would make a perfect Wes Anderson movie--in the same vein as The Royal Tenenbaums or Moonrise Kingdom. Somebody write up a screenplay!)
Favorite Quotations: -"I'm not a philosopher. No, really not. But it just happens, every so often, that something very ordinary seems beautiful to me and I'd like it to be eternal. I'd like this bistro, and that dusty light bulb, and that dog dreaming on the marble, and even this night--to be eternal. And their essential quality is precisely that they aren't" (24).
-"The stairway had forty-seven steps; that of Obonne station had the same number. Etienne had just made this discovery and, comparing it with that of the little ducks and that of the place where they sold French fries, he concluded that the world is big and fearsome, full of mysteries and even, as you might say, enigmas" (55).
-"Supported by a heap of junk and scrap iron, he thought himself happy; he thought himself wise; he was, moreover, alcoholic and lecherous" (93).
-The entire exchange of letters between Theo and Nercense (52+).(less)
I'd have to say that this is the closest thing I've read to erotica. I mean, while I love Karen's reviews, I don't go in for stuff like this or this....moreI'd have to say that this is the closest thing I've read to erotica. I mean, while I love Karen's reviews, I don't go in for stuff like this or this. (Not that there's anything wrong with it.) I feel like Women could never actually be called "erotica" anyway; there's nothing erotic in it. Pornographic, sure, but it's that hard, dirty kind devoid of all passion. Now familiar with Bukowski's work, this didn't surprise me at all: I knew what a misanthropic, lonely degenerate the protagonist is. That's why it doesn't surprise me either that perhaps the most pressing conflict in the book is this: "I was astounded and dismayed to find she had a large pussy. An extra large pussy. I hadn't noticed it the night before. That was a tragedy" (78). It does surprise me that I was able to read 300 pages of "romantic encounter" after "romantic encounter" without the book feeling stale. There's something about Henry Chinaski (and the simplicity with which Bukowski writes) that I find engaging, entertaining, and just plain funny.
Favorite Quotes: "Potential doesn't mean a thing. You've got to do it. Almost every baby in a crib has more potential than I have" (38).
"There's no way I can stop writing, it's a form of insanity" (98). (less)
Here, I'll save you time and money--for 200 pages of relatively large text broken into about 80 chapters imagine the following: A poor degenerate trav...moreHere, I'll save you time and money--for 200 pages of relatively large text broken into about 80 chapters imagine the following: A poor degenerate travels to a new city, finds a menial job, works for about a day, gets fired, gets drunk, repeat. (Actually, the "gets drunk" should be in-between every item in that series.) There is nothing standout in the writing. Henry Chinaski, our despicable narrator/Bukowski alter-ego, is the type of human I would despise in real life (yep, I actually "despise" some people).
Here it comes...
BUT I still "liked" this book. Not nearly as much as Ham on Rye, but enough to start reading Post Office right away. I was right in worrying that it would not be as entertaining to read about adult-Chinaski's "antics" as it was child-Chinaski's. Still, he's got a certain charm. No...that's not the right word. He's got all the charm of a shit stain. Let's call it a certain je no se quoi. Yeah. That's right, but it still feels too fancy to apply. Well, on to Post Office and what I can only assume will be more simple sentences about boozing, banging, bowel movements, and bad-ass behaviour.(less)
I can't remember the last time I read a (real) book in one day. Very entertaining.
It opens with the United States Post Office CODE OF ETHICS, which st...moreI can't remember the last time I read a (real) book in one day. Very entertaining.
It opens with the United States Post Office CODE OF ETHICS, which stresses the "unwavering integrity and...highest moral principles" required of its employees. Familiar with Chinaski's character by now, I couldn't help seeing this as the opening shot of a movie that then transitions to the next scene by slowly burning from the center of the page: like this this. I also couldn't help but laugh 184 pages later when we learn how Henry Chinaski "had all by [himself]...revolutionized the postal system." That is after accidentally starting a fire with the ashes of his cigar "a week later there were NO SMOKING IN THIS AREA signs all around."
This was much more interesting (and funny!) than Factotum. First, it has many more actual typical story elements. For example, right from the beginning there is a villain (not just Chinaski) to root against. A. E. "The Stone" Johnstone is the detested, ride-your-ass boss that everyone loves to hate. Suddenly, Henry's crass remarks and drunken ineptitude actually become (almost) endearing because many are actually small victories against "The Stone."
Second, this book is less repetitive. Each little mail room story or trip to the racetrack or "relationship" is just different enough to be funny in its own way.
Finally, this is actually far less vulgar than the other two. (This was his first novel, so maybe he hadn't "blossomed," which somehow doesn't seem like the right word at all; however, I'm reading the books in chronological order of the character's life). There were times when I was actually shocked by the lack of a colloquial name for some sex organ/sex act. Examples: "teethmarks all over my chest, neck and shoulders, and somewhere else that worried me more and was quite painful" (56), "[flies] were in his eyes, under the hair, in his ears, on his privates" (71). Privates? Privates, Bukowski?! You prude!